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Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees

Engaging First-Time Conference Attendees: 4 Tactics to Try

Of course you want to provide an exceptional experience for ALL of your conference attendees, but ensuring that happens for your first-time attendees is particularly important. Their decision to attend future events (and possibly even renew their membership) depends heavily on that first experience, so going the extra mile for those folks, in particular, is certainly worth it.

What does “going the extra mile” for your first-time attendees look like? Here are a few tactics worth trying:

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Competing for Your Members’ Time: 3 Ways to Attract and Engage

Posted by Callie Walker

Competing for Your Members' Time and Attention.jpg

One of the most valuable things we, as individuals, own is our time. Once we spend it, we can’t get it back. And we know that, which is why we’re so careful about what we devote time to.

Your members are no different, and that’s why it can sometimes be difficult to engage with them. They have other things fighting for their time. They could…

  • Read your blog post OR catch up on social media
  • Attend your event OR have an afternoon/evening to themselves
  • Volunteer OR finish that big project at work

The trick is getting them to choose your association.

So how do you do it? Well we wish there was one hard-and-fast solution, but there’s not. Fortunately though, there are a few tips/best practices. Take a look!

1. Always state the benefits

Like we mentioned earlier, your members are probably having an internal dialogue every time they receive something from your organization. Hmm, I could read that or…

Let them know why YOUR offering is more important. This means clearly stating the benefits.

  • By attending this webinar, you’ll learn…
  • By volunteering, you’ll help…

Letting them know up front what they’ll get out of engaging with your association boosts the chances of them actually doing so (particularly if they can’t come up with a valid reason for choosing the other option - whatever that “other option” is).

2. Play around with deadlines

How many times have you gotten an email and thought, ehh, I’ll get to that later. We do this all the time - your members included! Unfortunately though, later rarely comes - and that’s an opportunity to engage with your members, missed.

The solution? One option is to play around with deadlines. See, when a member receives your email and thinks oh, I’ll get to that later, what they’re essentially saying is what they’re doing at that time or within the next few hours is more important. And perhaps it is. Perhaps they’re trying to meet a deadline at work, for example.

But don’t leave your offer on the table indefinitely. If you do that, people are bound to put other to-do’s (those urgent and those less so) before yours - because they know yours will always be there.

That said, play around with deadlines. Offer early bird pricing on your webinar or conference. Arrange for the first 20 people that register to have a private meet-and-greet with the speaker. And when it comes to emails - your newsletter, for example - create a sense of urgency in the subject line (2 days left, time’s running out, special offer inside, etc.) By creating these deadlines, you’re forcing your members to re-prioritize their tasks. (And before you feel bad about that, keep in mind that some of those tasks are “catch up on social media” and “have 10 minutes of downtime.” Nothing your deadline will completely throw off!)

3. Make your offers unique

Another popular justification for skipping out on things is I’ll just catch the next one - the next luncheon, webinar, annual meeting, etc. We often think that because, essentially, they’re all the same.

But what if they weren’t? What if you could make your offerings all so unique - and market them that way - that people wouldn’t want to miss out? Here’s an example: Let’s say once a quarter, you host a local luncheon. The speakers and topics always change, but aside from that, they’re all pretty similar: network, lunch, keynote speaker, done. Well what if you could switch up the location every now and then? (And not just to another conference room, but somewhere fun - like to a museum or a new, trendy restaurant.) Or, let’s say location switch-ups are out of the question. Why not play around with a theme? For example, once a month you could have a carnival-themed luncheon (candy, hot dogs etc.) with a presentation titled, “Along for the Ride: Understanding New Industry Trends and Regulations.”

By making your offerings unique, people won’t want to skip out - because they know they can’t catch that same thing the next time!

Engaging with your members is tough, but hopefully these tactics will encourage your members to take that next step. Want more tips for engaging your members - through your organization’s website, email, social media, and more? Check out our free guide, Membership Engagement for Small-Staff Associations, below!

Membership Engagement  A comprehensive guide to engaging your organization's membership Download this guide

Topics: association leadership, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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